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Jan. 6th, 2006 | 11:24 pm
posted by: sunshine_queen in spy_santa
Title: John 11.41
Spoilers: Up to Season Five
Characters wished for: Vaughn, Sydney
Elements included: S/V, babyfic post Prophet-5 with a dash of realllly hopeful optimism?
Elements excluded: Rambaldi
See, what I didn't realize until I was midway through is that I'm kind of extremely rusty on writing happy endings. So I did as best I could. Hope you enjoy!
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
By the time Isabelle is three months old, Sydney has figured out that Patsy Cline is the only way to settle her down in the middle of the night. This is why, at four-fifteen on a Tuesday morning, Sydney is awake and listening to the honeyed voice drawing out words of “Crazy-” by far Isabelle’s favorite song- when the phone rings.
Isabelle does not appreciate this disruption at all and squawks irritably. Sydney brings the baby up to her shoulder and rubs her back, answering the phone with a lump of lead in her stomach.
A man claiming to be Michael Vaughn had called in from a payphone in Oslo two hours before, using the proper confirmation codes and protocols. His call had been forwarded to Jack, who promptly sent Thomas Grace to Norway to retrieve the lost agent and called his daughter to give her the news.
Sydney stopped hoping that Vaughn was alive the day that Isabelle was born. She knew that if he were alive, Vaughn would not have missed his daughter's birth. She had firmly believed that if he had been somehow, miraculously alive, he would have made it, making sure not to miss a minute.
"I don't believe it," she announces firmly to her father, holding her daughter closer to her chest. "It's not him."
Jack thinks it is wise for his daughter not to get her hopes up: Sydney is far too trusting and forgiving, and the loss of Vaughn a second time would only devastate her again. "We'll be in touch," he says aloud. "Get some rest."
By the time Sydney hangs up, the CD has ended and Isabelle’s breathing steadily across her collarbone. Sydney reminds herself of what is important- not chasing after Vaughn's ghost or vanquishing the now-extinct Prophet Five- and the only thing that comes to mind is her daughter.
When Grace returned with Vaughn, Jack made sure that Sydney wasn't there. If the man was not Michael Vaughn, then Jack would not want Sydney to see the torture he would inflict on a man with Vaughn's face.
"Jack," the man said, rising hesitantly when Jack entered, as if he knew no one believed him. Jack eyed him dispassionately and began the interrogation. Two hours later he emerged.
"It's Vaughn," he says to Grace and Rachel. "Go monitor his statement."
When Jack returns to the room, Vaughn leaps to his feet. "You told me I've been gone for a year. A year, Jack, and then you left. Where's Sydney? Is she alright? Did she-" Here Vaughn stammers, unsure of how to proceed, "Did she have the baby?"
Jack nods in reply, and Vaughn sits back down heavily. Jack remembers the initial weight of fatherhood, and how staggering the responsibility is. "Is it a girl? A boy?" There is a note of wonder in his voice.
"Her name is Isabelle."
"Isabelle," Vaughn savors the name. "Syd named her Isabelle." There is silence while Vaughn tries to picture the alien entity of his daughter, dozens of combinations appearing and dissipating.
"Your statement still needs to be verified, and there are tests that need to be run."
He nods, knowing the precautions are to protect Sydney and his daughter. Isabelle.
He submits to a more rigorous interrogation, a physical, and a psych evaluation. They draw blood to test his DNA, compare finger prints and retinal scans. His patience runs thin only after hours of being prodded without any indication of an end.
He spends the night in a bright white cell in the company of a half-eaten sandwich and a water bottle; he sleeps little and worries.
In the morning, Grace comes to get him, wearing the same scowl he did in Oslo. “Jack wants to see you,” he says, and holds open the door. On the other side is a blonde that he has seen briefly, usually only fetching and carrying. His contact with Dixon and Marshall has been limited.
It seems that Jack has not slept all night, but he doesn’t show it. He addresses the blonde as Rachel and she removes a stack of files from Jack’s desk. Vaughn somehow does not believe that this is her job.
“You’ve been cleared.”
Vaughn feels like these words should have more fanfare, that he should feel more triumphant and vindicated, in spite of his lack of guilt.
“When do I get to see Sydney?” He cannot think of meeting his daughter yet.
“Grace will take you.”
Thomas Grace is as silent on their drive to Sydney’s apartment as he was on their flight from Norway. It is not until they are a block away that he speaks. “Jack says that you’re really Michael Vaughn.”
“I am.” He wonders if they will accept it anytime soon.
Grace casts his eyes over, narrow and piercing. “I don’t believe it. But he’s already told Sydney.” He turns onto Sydney’s street, and looks at the road again. “You had better be the real thing. Because not only would Jack kill you, but it would kill her.” He eases the car into a parking space by the apartment. Vaughn can see the front door clearly.
He doesn’t need to justify himself, he thinks as he gets out of the car without replying. He doesn’t look back, but he knows Grace is watching as he walks up to the door.
Vaughn doesn’t have his key anymore, and it wouldn’t feel right to reach for the key, taped to a shadowed corner. “They’re going to get in one way or another,” Sydney had said when someone had questioned the safety of someone like her keeping a spare key outside like a normal civilian. She was right. Now, he knocks, once confidently, and then quietly, because he remembers that there is now a baby there.
Sydney opens the door after three knocks- a towel over her shoulder, left there carelessly to protect her red sweater. The roses in her cheeks are more prominent than they were before. Her breath catches in her throat as she looks at him, her hand frozen on the door.
“Hey,” he says after a long moment, and tears prick at Sydney’s eyes.
“Hey,” she says back, and when they move towards one another, they are both hesitant.
He feels his trepidation melt once he actually has his arms around her. She smells the same, mostly- crisp and fresh- but there is now a different sweetness to her, and he is pretty sure it has something to do with the baby. The hand behind his neck slips under his collar and she leans into him.
When she looks up there are a few tears on her cheeks, which he wipes away. “Come in,” she says with a hint of a smile.
There is a diaper bag on the counter, unzipped and a light pink, bottles drying upside-down beside the sink. And he’s sure the overwhelmed grin on his face is verging on ridiculous by the time Sydney slips her hand into his.
“I missed you,” she says softly as he continues to look around- a bouncy seat on the table, a new bookshelf with a multitude of thick, brightly colored books, the covered electrical plugs. A guilt settles in that he hadn’t anticipated.
“Syd, I- I don’t know where I’ve been.”
The understanding in her eyes frightens him- more time lost between them, never to be recovered. “Dad told me, that you don’t remember.” He shakes his head and Syd smiles sadly. “Aren’t we a pretty pair?”
He looks around again, helplessly, at all that he has missed. “Hey,” she says, reaching for him. She kisses him firmly to make him forget. His hand slips to her waist, and she feels different now, marked by something he hasn’t seen. He rests his hand on her stomach, taut again. “I’m so sorry, Syd…”
“No,” she says, “We’re not going to waste time like that. I’m supposed to-” She stops and takes a deep breath. “Supposed to ask you questions. To confirm, for myself. To make sure that you’re really you.”
He can’t think of anything to offer than would satisfy her- a recount of anything of their past would feel trite. “What do you want me to say?”
“When you proposed, I told you to ask me somewhere else.” The ring is still on her finger.
“On the beach, you said. Like I’d planned.”
Her smile changes to something softer. “You need to meet Isabelle.”
Asleep in a bassinet next to Sydney’s side of the bed Isabelle seems impossibly small and perfect, with a head of light brown hair and tiny fists. Vaughn isn’t prepared for the way he feels about her. “She’s-”
“She’s ours,” Sydney says. She picks up the baby and cradles her for a second, and Vaughn realizes that every word uttered about women having a maternal glow is true. He is pretty sure he’s never seen anything more beautiful.
“Here,” she says, offering the baby to him. He takes her, awkwardly, and Sydney gently positions his arms, leaving her hands on him as he studies Isabelle. She’s heavier than he expected, and smells warm and sweet.
She blinks awake, rosebud mouth yawning wide, and her eyes are bright, brilliant green.
A few weeks later, when all doubts of his identity has been erased and Isabelle is the apple of Vaughn’s eye, Sydney marvels at how easily things have slid into place. It’s raining, and she’s lying in bed with her fiancé, their daughter sleeping easily on her father’s chest.
“Vaughn,” she whispers, “we did it.”
He kisses her forehead. “I knew we would.”